Thanks, Metromix Cleveland!

We’re glad to hear Metromix Cleveland enjoyed their recent visit to Bistro 185, as reported in this review: “Bistro 185 proves that our city’s successful restaurants don’t need to just be in Tremont, Ohio City or East 4th Street.  With the right formula and attention to detail, Bistro 185 is a neighborhood restaurant that can compete with the city’s best.”

“A Night in Budapest” is vegan magic

Greetings, Bistro fans and vegan cuisine fans. The Tenant is finally back, with some time out for a cold. I regret to say that as a result of this cold, I decided not to attend the $10 wine tasting this week (I never want to risk making any of the other fine Bistro patrons, or the terrific staff for that matter, ill if I can help it). If you attended, however, and have a comment you’d like to make, please feel free!

As for “A Night in Budapest,” the latest Bistro venture into gourmet vegan cuisine last week, that was a fine evening indeed (as you know if you tried it yourself). The 3-for-$30 meal began with a first course of Tomato-Fennel Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings:

This dish was delightfully spicy with its blend of tomatoes, fennel, onion, paprika, and other flavorings. The cornmeal dumplings were deliciously tender, and the whole thing was topped with fresh sprigs of dill. A wonderfully warming winter soup.

Then it was on to the main dish, Vegan Chicken Paprikash with Potato Gnocchi:

This “chicken” was, as is true of many Bistro vegan dishes, made with gardein, which I’m told is made primarily from wheat gluten. Obviously not a choice for those with celiac or other issues requiring a gluten-free diet, but it does make an incredible chicken stand-in that is extremely difficult to tell from the real thing in terms of flavor. It worked perfectly in this dish, paired with classic traditional-tasting potato gnocchi and a sauce that, from my understanding, included cashew milk. It was rich, creamy in texture, and tasted just like something you might enjoy in a traditional home-cooking Eastern European ethnic restaurant.

The grand conclusion of the meal was Hungarian-Style Crepes with Apricot Preserves:

The crepes, made with almond milk and without eggs, were ultra-thin and delicious, layered with sweet fruit preserves, and accompanied by a snowing of powdered sugar, fresh berries, and “whipped cream” made with almond milk combined with a little tapioca to firm it up. A fantastic dessert and the perfect complement to the rest of the meal.

Altogether, “An Evening in Budapest” proved that even hearty, traditional ethnic cooking is possible using all vegan ingredients, and you won’t miss a bit of flavor!

Want more proof? Another opportunity is coming soon. On Wednesday, February 23, Bistro 185 presents “A Trip to India,” a three-course vegan dinner themed on Indian cuisine beginning to end:

First Course
Chickpea-Onion Samosas
Cilantro and Mint Chutney
Field Green Salad with Tamarind Vinaigrette

Cashew-Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Vegetables and Tofu
Organic Brown Basmati Rice

Coconut-Cardamom Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis
Fresh Berries

Sounds special, doesn’t it? The dinner will be available between 5 and 9 p.m.; to ensure yourself a reserved time, call 216.481.9635 now and prepay with your credit card. Cost is $30 per person, plus 20 percent gratuity and 7.75 percent tax additional.

At Bistro 185, vegan dining is more than just a meal; it’s a tasteful journey into everything this type of cuisine can be. Book yourself this passage to India now!

Chocoholics, rejoice!

We’ve got the menu all planned for the Chocolate & Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16. As promised, every dish includes chocolate, and every one is going to be special:

Aperitif Wine
San Giulio Malvasia

First Course
Seared Day Boat Scallop
Wild Mushroom Risotto
White Chocolate and Lemon Sauce
Wine: Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs

Second Course
Chocolate and Espresso Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Medallions
Mango Sauce
Chocolate Noodle Kugel
Wine: Rebel Wine Company “The Show” Malbec

Third Course
Parmesan and Chocolate Basket
Mixed Greens
Organic Chocolate Nibs
Dark-Chocolate-Dipped Bacon
Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette
Wine: Graffigna Pinot Grigio

Fourth Course
Duck Confit with Chili-Chocolate Mole Sauce
Agave Rum-Grilled Bosc Pear
Wine: Campo Viejo Rioja

Fifth Course
Panko-and-Hazelnut-Crusted Scampi
Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce
Brunoise of Fresh Melons in a Chocolate Liqueur
Wine: Maschio Prosecco Treviso Brut

Sixth Course
Chocolate Crème Brulée
Chocolate Cigar
Fresh Berries
Wine: Terra d’Oro Port Zinfandel

Think of what a special gift this dinner would make for your Valentine — this year, skip the box of candy and give an original “assorted chocolates” surprise! Not only that, but maybe your sweetheart will enjoy the idea of dining out after the rush. Especially when it means enjoying a relaxing, elegantly served six-course meal that’s full of chocolate magic.

You won’t want to miss this one, so call now and make your reservation ($75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity) at 216.481.9635. Chocolate may be the food of romance, but our Chocolate Wine Dinner will be a sweet experience even if you’re enjoying it solo!

Private Reserve wine tasting: eight high-quality wines for only $20

The Tenant returns with a brief review of this past Tuesday’s wine tasting featuring wines from Purple Feet Distributing and Private Reserve Wine Distributors. If you’re a wine lover, tastings like these are a deal you shouldn’t miss: you have the opportunity to taste eight high-quality wines for only $20. If you don’t know much about wine (that would be me), these tastings help you become acquainted, for not much money at all, with what kind of value you can get for your dollar if you learn a little about what’s out there.

Allow me to speak for a moment to my fellow wine naïfs (oenophiles, forgive me). If you’re like many people who don’t know much about wine, you may have come to the conclusion that only expensive wines can really be any good. And you might think that for sure, no good imported wine is going to be inexpensive. Wrong on both counts, as we saw, and tasted, Tuesday night. Of the eight wines we tasted, only one cracks the $25-a-bottle ceiling, and two are available for about $9 per.

A small word about the food. For the wine tasting, the Bistro extended its $5 Happy Hour appetizer policy until 8 p.m. This meant that while appetizers were additional, it was possible to purchase one or two and eat both inexpensively and well. My choice was the Pot Roast Sliders. I’ve had the Bistro’s regular burger sliders before, but not these, and they were exquisite: thick little squares of juicy, melt-in-your-mouth pot roast, on the traditional tiny buns, lavished with as many caramelized grilled onions as the burger kind. Accompanied by a generous mound of sweet potato fries, these make a great meal. (I recommend asking for a side of ranch or Gorgonzola dressing for your fries.)

Now, about the wine. Selections consisted of six reds and two whites, so for the red-wine fan especially, this was a treat, and each wine had something to recommend it.

We got a taste of both the white and red Esporao Monte Velho wines from Alentejo, Portugal. The white was described as “Aroma of floral and spicy fruit. Intense, elegant and well balanced” and a good accompaniment for grilled fish, shellfish, cheeses, and vegetarian dishes. It does seem suited to that purpose; it struck me as fairly dry, but with a nice soft fruity quality. As for the red version, if I were to pick a favorite amongst all the wines, this would probably be it. I really liked the intense ripe berry bouquet that this one gave you right off the top, not to mention the taste, which seemed a bit oaky without being extremely so. And at $9.99 a bottle for either wine, they’re a steal. If you want a really good, yet inexpensive, foreign wine, try the Portuguese.

Not to say that California doesn’t have decently priced, very good wines as well. We were poured two Havenscourt wines, 2008 Chardonnay and 2008 Pinot Noir, and each had things to recommend it. The Chardonnay has “creamy vanilla and lemon flavors enhanced by toasty oak aromas,” our literature said. I found it less dry than the Monte Veho, but not overly sweet either, just a nice balance. The Pinot Noir, with a taste that “hints of currants, ripe berries and violets,” had a powerful bouquet but a smooth, not highly intense flavor on the tongue. These are $8.99 a bottle — terrific bargains indeed.

The Castelnoble Tempranillo, from Spain, provided yet more proof that “foreign” and “good” doesn’t have to mean “pricey.” This wine, described as having aromas and flavors of black currant, raspberries, and toasted vanilla, had a bright flavor with a full, heady bouquet, with a spicy feeling in the mouth. It also sells for $9.99 — very affordable if you want a wine for an elegant dinner that doesn’t cost more than the dinner.

It was back to California for the 2007 Tin Barn Napa Valley Zinfandel, and it was a nice trip. Strong bouquet, nice and smooth drinking with a fruity, peppery-spicy flavor. This one is a little more costly at $19.99.

The Urano Malbec, an Argentinean selection, was described as “intense red fruit, hints of spice, subtle French oak, touch of coffee and tobacco. Solid with a pleasant finish.” I found it dense, fruity, and quite smooth and silky, but not with a terribly intense flavor — more subtle. If you like something that really jumps on your tongue, this one may not be for you, but if you like a really silky-smooth wine, it could be a perfect match at $12.99.

Last was the 2006 Ahnfeldt Provocative Cabernet. This Cab is actually a blend of 75 percent Cab, 14 percent Merlot, 1 percent Petit Verdot, and 10 percent Syrah. It makes for a spicy-cinnamony red wine that’s smooth with subtle hints of sweetness (cherry, milk chocolate, caramel, and currant, so the literature says). It was the priciest wine of this group at $25.99, but also a very nice choice in red wines.

If you couldn’t make it to this tasting, because of the weather or for some other reason, there’s still plenty of time to call 216.481.9635 and make reservations for the $10 tasting on Tuesday, the 25th. It’s sure to feature more very drinkable and affordable wines to tempt your palate.

The Wine Tasting is back on!

We’re going to make this twice-postponed wine tasting finally happen–and it’s going to be a doozy! Call now at 216.481.9635 to make your reservations for our Wine Tasting with Gabe Mitchell of Purple Feet next Tuesday, January 11. Cost of the tasting is $20 and hors d’oeuvres will be available for purchase. This tasting will feature the following lineup of wines:

Havenscourt Chardonnay
Havenscourt Pinot Noir
Tin Barn Napa Valley Zin
Ahnfeldt Provocative Cabernet

as well as four select Private Reserve wines, list forthcoming. You don’t want to miss this one!
And that’s not all! On Tuesday, January 25, we’ll have a $10 wine tasting with Barb Kelly, list of wines to come. Why not call and reserve for that one at the same time? We’re celebrating the fruit of the vine big time this month!